Earlier this month I grumbled (ever so slightly) over the selective coverage of humanitarian crises in the mainstream press (I was then alluding to the dearth of coverage regarding Sri Lanka). Another case in point: Congo v. Darfur:
According to Julie Hollar of Fair and Accuracy in Reporting:
To put the death rate in perspective, at the peak of the Darfur crisis, the conflict-related death rate there was less than a third of the Congo’s, and by 2005 it had dropped to less than 4,000 per month. The United Nations has estimated some 300,000 may have died in total as a result of the years of conflict in Darfur; the same number die from the Congo conflict every six and a half months.
And yet, in the New York Times, which covers the Congo more than most U.S. outlets, Darfur has consistently received more coverage since it emerged as a media story in 2004. The Times gave Darfur nearly four times the coverage it gave the Congo in 2006, while Congolese were dying of war-related causes at nearly 10 times the rate of those in Darfur.
Hollar goes on to suggest several potential explanations underpinning such a media disparity, among them: journalist access to the conflict zone (or lack thereof); celebrity attention (or lack thereof, until recently); and U.S. political interests which, Hollar argues, are the foremost drivers of where the West happens to invest its attention. While there may be some merit to this claim, my understanding is that the crisis failed to attract much initial attention in the U.S. and beyond, which weakens her argument. Thoughts on this, anyone?